• Champions League

Bayern star warns: 'There's no way we'll slacken off'

ESPN staff
March 13, 2013
Bayern plan to inflict more pain on Arsenal © PA Photos

Bayern Munich's stars promised to show no mercy against Arsenal on Wednesday night, when the Gunners will need to inflict only a third defeat of the season upon the German champions-elect if they are to progress in the Champions League.

Bayern, who will be without Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boateng, go into their home game with a 3-1 aggregate lead following their win at Emirates Stadium three weeks ago.

Despite his team's comfortable advantage, Bayern winger Thomas Muller insists Arsenal will not be given an easy ride at the Allianz Arena.

"We'll go for it, let there be no doubt about that," Muller said. "There's no way we'll slacken off, even sub-consciously. It's all or nothing in the Champions League. You're either through or you're out. There's nothing in-between."

Bayern's only two previous losses both came last October, when they were defeated 3-1 at BATE Borisov in their Champions League group on October 2 before going down 2-1 at home to Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga on October 28.

Since the turn of the year, they have won all 11 of the games they have played as they have opened up a 20-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga and reached the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal.

Despite advising caution ahead of the return leg, Bayern captain Philipp Lahm says his team will not relax.

"We will approach the match as though it's still 0-0," Lahm told the pre-match press conference. "We've built a huge amount of belief in recent weeks and months. We know we're playing well. I'm certain we'll go through to the next round."

Bayern's Spain international Javi Martinez could take the Schweinsteiger role in the centre of the pitch, with Brazilian Luiz Gustavo playing the more defensive part of the midfield unit. However, Toni Kroos is another option to drop back and form part of the midfield pivot.

"The Champions League was something special for every player and even more so at FC Bayern as the club has not won the title for a long time." the Bundesliga's record signing told Suddeutsche Zeitung.

"My job is to balance the game. We have quite an attacking approach with Franck, Thomas, Toni and Mandschu or Mario [Ribery, Muller, Kroos, Mandzukic and Gomez]. That's why a lot of teams wait for counter-attacks. They just wait for us to be in an all-out attacking mode and then they strike. My main task is to prevent that from happening. I am there to help others."

Martinez, one of an increasing number of Spanish players in Bundesliga, revealed that ahead of signing for Bayern he spoke to Raul, who had spent two seasons at Schalke 04. "He did not talk about the Bundesliga - he held a torch for Bundesliga. I asked him, where he wanted to live after he finished his career. I meant: Where in Spain? But Raul said his kids wanted to get back to Dusseldorf [where Raul lived during his time at Schalke].

"The Bundesliga is booming right now. And also in Spain, people realise the stadiums are always packed," he said, citing another reason for his summer transfer from Athletic Bilbao. "That is of more importance for a player than many would come to think. Raul was something of a pioneer. Certainly, I asked for his advice before deciding for Bundesliga."

At Bayern, Martinez will be joined by former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola next season. The appointment of Guardiola in January came as a shock for many people in football and in Spain. "They were all surprised," Martinez said. "I know that because when the news broke nearly all of Spain called me."

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